The very first act to take the main stage at last September’s Muddy Roots Festival in Cookeville was Murfreesboro’s own indie-folk/bluegrass super-sextet string band, The Hardin Draw. Greeting that growing crowd with some well-known traditional songs—as string bands do very well to ease into a group of folks—they proceeded with a short burst of originals from their as-of-now steadily growing repertoire, and as a treat, the fellas and gal took these originals performed at the festival, compiled them into a four track EP simply titled, The Muddy Roots EP, and released them on CD out of Twin Oak Recordings shortly after the festival, but more recently in the usual internet stores last month.
A hybrid of other established Murfreesboro groups with backgrounds in everything from metal to rockabilly, The Hardin Draw came together as a drunkenly roving bar band in latter 2011 as just as an experiment, and now a year later, they’re pulling together a 2013 tour and are in-studio working on a full length debut album while The Muddy Roots EP floats around as a sampler. It establishes a heavy influence by Mumford and Sons, with hints of The Fleet Foxes in their acoustics be them from the spliced mandolin, guitars, upright, lap steel, banjos, washboards and Nikki Oliff’s accordion. Or by their collective voices that harmonize in angelic fashion (or at least monk-ish), giving away their similar sounds to the mentioned comparisons but with the band members offering a more Gothic approach to this form of music instrumentally and lyrically.
This is heard within the first seconds of the leading track, “Hollow,” as a dark harmonizing vocals from all members of the band fades into a hurtling train rhythm with hints of a mandolin powered helicopter as guitarist and vocalist, David Talley, leads into an ominous, dark-country inspired lyrics, “Found your heart on this lonely road/ painted black but only I would know/death by choice, I’m travelling/I hear your voice . . .” and doesn’t get off those tracks for the remaining “Home,” “Long Black Train,” (which is a great marching dirge), and the last track “The Lord’s Prayer.”
With the EP only containing four tracks from a newly established band, it’s hard to iterate a noticeable degree of adventurous variety in musical styles on The Muddy Roots EP, but the back stories of the individual members is good enough for now after hearing what they’ve done with themselves here. If there’s a band steadfast in proving themselves a great show through hard work, though all already busy, to establish a root sound to grow on, it’s The Hardin Draw. And well worth the attention when you get a chance.
Copies of The Muddy Roots EP can be found on iTunes and Amazon as of the last week of November and the band gives fans access to buy a hard copy at most of their shows, the next of which is scheduled Dec. 8 at Wall Street’s Night of the Living Cover Bands presented by Youth Empowerment through the Arts and Humanities (YEAH!) where The Hardin Draw will play a set of Alice in Chains songs for charity, followed by a Dec. 27 show in Knoxville’s Barley’s Taproom if you’re around that way during the holidays. Updated information can be found at facebook.com/TheHardinDraw, or reverbnation.com/thehardindraw.